I've had the Southwest Companion Pass, and it's a game changer for family vacations - you can get one now easier than ever before
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- In the past, the only way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass was to fly 100 one-way flights on the airline, or earn 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year.
- Southwest's new promotion allows you to earn the Southwest Companion Pass with a single credit card sign-up bonus!
- This promotional Southwest Companion Pass lets your companion fly free for the rest of the year - even if you pay for your flight with points.
- Our pick for the best Southwest card to open is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card - however, read on here to see which is best for you.
While all sorts of travel deals come and go over the years, one of the best - and most lucrative - is the Southwest Companion Pass offered by Southwest Airlines.
This usual pass allows its owner to let a designated "companion" fly for free for remainder of the year they earn it and the entire next year. Amazingly, the Companion Pass works whether you book the initial flight with points or with cash - as in, you can book a free flight for yourself with Southwest Rapid Rewards points and still bring your companion along for free.
Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), the Southwest Companion Pass isn't that easy to earn. While you have always been able to earn the pass by flying 100 qualifying one-way flights with the airline within a calendar year, you also had the option of earning 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points within a year. Many people used to get close to the 110,000-point threshold by signing up for two Southwest credit cards and earning sign-up bonuses on both, but sign-up bonus restrictions on Southwest credit cards have made that strategy almost impossible the last few years.
Fortunately for consumers, Southwest Airlines and Chase are partnering up to bring the Southwest Companion Pass within reach this year via a single credit card sign-up bonus.
It may seem too good to be true, but this is the real thing. Keep reading below to find out all the details and how you can sign up.
How to score the Southwest Companion Pass this year with a single credit card
Starting on January 10, Southwest is offering the easiest way to get the Companion Pass we've ever seen. Here's how this new promotion works:
When you sign up for any of the three personal Southwest credit cards - the Priority ($149 annual fee), the Premier ($99 annual fee), or the Plus ($69 annual fee) - you will get the Southwest Companion Pass plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on your purchases in the first three months of account opening.
This promotional Companion Pass works just like the regular one since it allows customers to choose one person to fly with them free of airline charges every time they purchase or redeem points for a flight. You would only have to pay airline taxes and fees for the companion, which work out to $5.60 per person one way for domestic flights. The big caveat here is that this version of the Companion Pass only lasts through December 31, 2019. This credit card offer also ends early in the year on February 11, 2019.
In other words, you can sign up for this card, earn the promotional Companion Pass for the rest of this year, and score 30,000 points to spend on flights in one fell swoop. If you think you can qualify for one of the personal Southwest credit cards, this is one heck of a deal!
How to use this promotion to your advantage
Let's say you do sign up and complete the requirements to qualify for this promotion. At that point, you would have the Companion Pass through the remainder of 2019 plus 30,000 points to spare. Also note that, if you have any Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer them to your Southwest account at a 1:1 ratio.
While the number of points you need for a free flight varies on Southwest, you can easily book a round-trip flight to the Caribbean with less than 30,000 points, then add your companion for free. Heck, you could even book two round-trip domestic trips for two people with this promotion if prices were low enough for the route you wanted.
A husband and wife with two kids could do even better. I know because both my husband and I each had our own Southwest Companion Passes several years ago. When we each had the Companion Pass, we each designated one of our kids as a companion and used the benefit to fly to the Caribbean a few times as well as several domestic trips. It was amazing while it lasted, and there's no reason you can't do the same in your house if both you and a spouse are willing to sign up for this new offer.
Imagine paying for two adult flights with points and the kids still coming along for free. It's hard to beat this deal, which is why you should sign up if you think you can swing it.
The fine print
Like every amazing offer out there, Southwest's new Companion Pass deal does come with some fine print. There are also a few caveats you should be aware of, as well as a few instances where you may not qualify. Here's what you should know:
- It can be difficult to get approved for Southwest credit cards. If you have already had a Southwest credit card (or have had one in the past), you may not qualify for this offer or this card. That's because Southwest includes the following wording in the terms and conditions of its credit card offers. "The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards®Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months." These terms and conditions may not apply to you if you have or have had a Southwest Business credit card, however.
- The Companion Pass is only good for the remainder of this year. Like we mentioned before, this promotional Companion Pass is only good for the remainder of this year instead of the year you earn it and the entire following year.
- You can only change your companion a few times. While you can choose anyone to fly for free with you whether you book with points or cash, you can't change your companion all the time. In fact, Southwest only lets you change your companion up to three times per year.
The bottom line
Southwest is frequently named as the nation's most family-friendly airline for a reason. Not only do they have a lucrative rewards program with fare-based redemptions, but you can check two bags for free and you can change or cancel most flights without a penalty. Plus, points are easy to earn thanks to Southwest co-branded credit cards and the fact that the airline partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Still, the Southwest Companion Pass could help you bring your rewards game to a whole new level.
You could score it for the rest of the year and bring your kid or spouse along everywhere you go, and your spouse could even do the same. And since Southwest flies to dozens of domestic destinations and to Caribbean hotspots like Aruba, Turks and Caicos, Grand Cayman, and Punta Cana, this perk could help you see more of the world this year.
Click here to learn more about the Southwest Priority card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.
Click here to learn more about the Southwest Premier card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.
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